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Poland Travel Guide: Best Places to Visit And Things To Do

The Republic of Poland is a state in central Europe, bordering in the west with Germany, in the south-west with the Czech Republic, in the south with Slovakia, in the south-east with Ukraine, in the east with Belarus, in the north-east with Lithuania, in the north – with Russia (Kaliningrad region). In the north, the coast of Poland is washed by the Baltic Sea. The capital is the city of Warsaw.

Poland is a popular tourist destination attracting thousands of tourists with great historical and architectural monuments and natural attractions.

History

About 2000 years ago, the territory of modern Poland was inhabited by the tribes of the Skir and Lugia, which had an unknown origin. By the end of the first millennium, the tribes of the meadows gave the modern name to the country, the Indians (from whose name the colloquial term of the Poles – “Poles”) some others already lived here. In the years 800 – 960, they formed about 20 separate principalities. The largest principality was the Polish state, created by the meadows in the 10th century. Christianity was adopted in 966. From 1025 Poland became a kingdom. So, the Polish kings Boleslav I the Brave in 1018 and Boleslav II the Brave in 1068 captured Kyiv.

In the XIV century, having annexed the Galicia-Volyn principality to its possessions, Poland tried to seize the Western Russian lands, weakened by the Tatar-Mongol invasion. In 1569, Poland united with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and formed a new state – the Rzeczpospolita.

In 1610, the Polish Army of General Zolkiewski defeated the Russian-Swedish army and moved to Moscow. Soon Moscow swore allegiance to the Polish prince Vladislav. However, due to a popular uprising led by Minin and Pozharsky in November 1612, the Poles were expelled from Moscow. In 1634, according to the Polyansky Peace Treaty, they abandoned their claims to Moscow.

Poland was going through the last period of stability in its history under King Vladislav IV. In 1648, an uprising of Ukrainian Cossacks and peasants began under Bohdan Khmelnytsky, and from 1654 to 1667, the war with Russia lasted, which started after the reunification of Ukraine with Russia in 1654. Then the Swedes occupied most of Poland, including Warsaw, King Jan II Casimir fled. In 1657, Poland was forced to abandon East Prussia, and in 1667 – from Kyiv and the territories east of the Dnieper.

Under Vishnevetsky, the Ottoman Empire took Podolia from Poland. It was only in 1683 that King Jan III Sobesky managed to stop the advance of the Turks to Europe.

The first division of the Commonwealth between Prussia, Austria, and Russia took place in 1772. The second time the territory of Poland was divided between Prussia and Russia in 1793. In 1795, after the suppression of the national liberation movement that began in March 1794 under the leadership of Kosciuszko, the third partition of the country between Russia, Prussia, and Austria took place.

Under Napoleon, the principality of Warsaw was created here, subject to France, and consisting of Polish lands taken from Prussia. The Poles took part in the Napoleonic war against Russia. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1814-1815, Poland was again divided between Austria, Prussia, and Russia. In 1815, the Kingdom of Poland as part of Russia gained independence. Still, in a volume that did not suit the Poles, almost the entire 19th century was overshadowed by popular uprisings and riots. During the First World War, Poland was occupied by the troops of Germany and Austria-Hungary. During the war between Poland and the USSR of 1919-1921, the western part of the Ukrainian and Belarusian lands passed to Poland.

In 1926, the nationalist regime of Józef Pilsudski was established in Poland. In 1939, Germany, having broken the Non-Aggression Pact with Poland, invaded its territory. During World War II, a very diverse Resistance movement operated on the part of Poland, which included units of the government Polish Army of Craiova, the Communist Guard of Ludowa, Ukrainian nationalist formations of the UPA, which exterminated the peaceful Polish population, and Soviet partisan detachments. Poland was liberated from the German fascist troops by the Red Army in 1945, after which the Polish Communist Party came to power. In the early 1980s, Poland went through a period of socio-economic decline, culminating in the coming to power of General Wojciech Jaruzelski. In 1989, the Solidarity party took over at the helm of the country.

Weather in Poland

There are three climatic zones in Poland.

The climate of the Baltic coast is maritime, with January temperatures -4 o C – +3 o C, and an average July temperature of +17 o C degrees. The average annual rainfall here is about 600 mm, the maximum amount falls in July and August, and the minimum in March.

In the central part of Poland (plains) and the highlands, the climate approaches continental: the average temperature in January is -2 o C, in July – +14 o C – +28 o C. The annual rainfall in this area is 520-540 mm. The rainiest month is July, while the driest months are February and March.

The mountainous regions of Poland are characterized by snowy and sunny winters and cool summers. Average January temperatures in the mountains reach -8 ° C, in July – + 10 ° C. The highest amount of precipitation falls in the mountains. So, in the Tatras, their annual number is 1800 mm. The rainiest month is July and the driest month is January.

Cities and regions

Poland is divided into 16 voivodeships, the voivodeships, in turn, are divided into counties (308 zemstva and 65 cities (cities with the rights of counties)), and the counties – into gminas (2489 communes).

Warsaw is the capital of Poland, located on the Vistula River, the economic, cultural, scientific, educational, and transport center of the country. Warsaw has also been considered Poland’s most important tourist center: its historical core is Stare Miasto (Old Town), which is on the list of UNESCO cultural heritage sites.

Warsaw, initially built in the 13th century, was severely damaged by the bombing of the Second World War, so the city’s current appearance is the result of post-war reconstruction. Among the city’s sights are the Royal Palace, the medieval Barbican, the Belvedere Palace, the Baroque Wilanow Palace, and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Parks are considered the real pride of the capital, particularly the palace and park ensemble of the 18th century Royal Lazienki, on the territory of which there are numerous monuments of history and culture.

There are 43 museums in Warsaw. The largest is the National Museum, with Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman culture objects and Polish and European paintings. Also worth mentioning is the Memorial Museum of the Polish Composer Frederic Chopin and the National Museum. 

Krakow is the former capital of Poland, an important cultural and educational center of the country. One of the oldest European universities, founded in 1364 by the Jagiellonian University, operates here. The city’s historical center is the Market Square (Rynek Główny) – the largest of the medieval squares in Europe. Krakow has completely preserved the medieval historical buildings in the Old Town. The main attractions are the Wawel Royal Residence, the Gothic St. Mary’s Church, the Cloth Hall (Sukenitsy), the Kazimierz Jewish Quarter, founded in the 15th century.

Lodz is the second-largest city in the country, with 725,055 inhabitants (2012 data). It is located in the center of Poland, 120 km southwest of Warsaw. Lodz is a renowned tourist destination and the center of the Polish electronics industry.

The settlement of Lodzia on the site of the present city of Lodz has been known since 1332, and it received the status of a town in 1423. The most significant interest of the guests is aroused by the buildings in the Art Nouveau style, which form the most important architectural complex in Poland, which includes the facilities of factories, residential buildings, palaces and mansions, parks that have survived since the 19th century. Among the attractions recommended for tourists to visit is the Palace of Israel Poznansky, Palace of Karl Poznansky, Villa Reinhold Richter, Cathedral of St. Stanislav Kostka, White Factory by Ludwig Geyer (1839) on Piotrkowska Street with the Museum of Textile Industry, the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe (40 sq. Km).

Poznan is a city located in the central part of western Poland, on the Warta River, which is the capital of the historical region of Wielkopolska, in which the core of the Polish state was once formed. Poznan is the fifth most populous city in Poland, with a population of 552 735 people (2010 data), one of the country’s most important industrial, commercial, cultural, scientific, and tourist centers. Among the local attractions are numerous churches of the 13th – 15th centuries, the Old Town with a market, the Town Hall, and buildings of the 16th – 19th centuries.

Wroclaw is the fourth most populous city in Poland after Warsaw, Lodz, and Krakow, with 632,996 people (2010 data). Wroclaw today is the largest industrial, commercial, scientific, cultural, and tourist center in the southwestern part of Poland.

The city was founded by the Czech prince Vratislav (915-921). The name comes from the name of the prince. Throughout its history, Wroclaw belonged to the Czechs, Austria-Hungary, Prussia, and Germany. Traces of their rule can be traced in the city’s historical buildings. Among the attractions is the Hall of the Century (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Wroclaw Cathedral, Racławice Panorama, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Lublin is a large Polish city, the administrative center of the Lublin Voivodeship (since 1474), with a population of 348,567 people (2012 data). The city has been known since the 10th century. It has a rich history and is undeservedly located aside from the main tourist routes. It is worth seeing the Lublin Royal Castle (XIII-XIX centuries) with a museum, Krakow Gate (XIV century), Town Hall (XIV-XVIII centuries), Market Square, Transfiguration Cathedral, Cathedral of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, Church of the Holy Apostle Peter. In the vicinity of Lublin, there is a sad World War II monument – the second largest concentration camp in Europe, Majdanek, in which the Nazis killed more than 360,000 people.

Czestochowa is a city on the Warta River in southern Poland, in the Silesian Voivodeship, with 248,032 inhabitants (data from 2004). The settlement on the site of today’s Czestochowa appeared in 1220 but became a city in the XIV century.

Czestochowa today is an important religious and pilgrimage center: there is a valuable icon of the Czestochowa Mother of God (Black Madonna). It has been kept since 1382 in the Pauline monastery on Yasnaya Gora (Yasnogorsky monastery). The defense of the Yasnogorsk monastery during the Polish-Swedish war of the 17th century is described in the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz, “The Flood.” According to legend, the author of the icon is Saint Luke himself, who painted the image in Nazareth on the tabletop from the house of the Holy Family.

In addition to the Yasnogorsk Monastery in Czestochowa, it is worth seeing the Gallery of Painting and Sculpture and the Staszic Park with the only Museum of Iron Ore Mining in Poland, the Ethnographic Pavilion, and the Planetarium.

Gdynia is a port city in northern Poland, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, with a population of 255,300 inhabitants (2003 data). Gdynia is a young Polish city that arose after the First World War on the fishing village site of the same name after Poland gained access to the sea.

Destroyed during World War II and rebuilt at the end of the war, the city has no valuable architectural monuments. Still, it has many fascinating museums, including the Oceanographic Museum with an aquarium, the City Museum, the Maritime Museum with two ships – the torpedo bomber Blyskavitsa and the training sailing ship Dar Help. “

Torun is a city in northern Poland, on the Vistula River, with 206 765 people (2007 data). The first settlements in this area date back to the 11th century BC. The fortress around which Teutonic knights built the present city of Torun in 1230–1231. The city of Torun is the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus.

The historic center of the city has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. The town has many interesting medieval buildings, built in the brick Gothic style. So, it is worth seeing the Town Hall (XIII-XIV centuries) with the District Museum inside; monument and house-museum of Copernicus; Church of the Virgin; the Church of St. Jacob and the Church of St. John (XIII century) with the famous “Trumpet of the Lord” bell (Tuba Dei, 1500), the second largest in the country; the building “House under the Star” (1697) with the Museum of Art of the Far East and a house with a tavern “Under a smart apron” (1700).

Torun also has its own “Leaning Tower” – Kiva Vezha (“crooked tower”), built in the 13th century and included in the structure of the city walls, as well as a military fort from the Second World War and an observatory.

Gdansk is the sixth most populous city in Poland (457,000 inhabitants in 2011), located in the country’s north and an important port on the Baltic Sea.

The first settlements on this site were founded in the 5th century. The first written mention of the city dates back to 997. Germans began to settle in Gdansk from the 12th century. In 1308 Gdansk was captured by the knights of the Teutonic Order, and in 1308-1466 and 1793-1945, it was called Danzig. The city was returned to Poland in 1466.

After the partition of Poland in 1793, Gdansk was transferred to Prussia and again became Danzig. Following the First World War results in 1919, Gdansk received the status of a free city and was ruled by the League of Nations. Gdansk was liberated from the Nazi invaders during the Second World War by Soviet troops at the end of March 1945 and again became a Polish city.

Today the city is an important center for shipbuilding, petrochemical, and chemical industries. In Gdansk, amber processing is also developed since the Baltic coast has vast reserves of it.

Tourists primarily visit the Old Town of Gdansk, which is an architectural complex of the XIII-XVIII centuries. You can see such vital sights as the Gothic Maryack Church – the second largest cathedral in Europe (XIII – XVI), the Royal Route Street, and the Dlugy Targ market square with interesting buildings of the Renaissance, many museums.

Where to go in Poland

Royal Palace of Warsaw

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The Royal Palace is a symbol of modern Warsaw. It is located in the center of the Old Town and occupies the eastern part of Castle Square. The Baroque castle was built in 1598–1618 by the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund Vasa on the medieval castle of the Mazovian princes. It was reconstructed in the 18th century under King Augustus Poniatowski in the classicist style. In the interval between the world wars, the palace was rebuilt again and became the seat of the country’s leadership. During World War II, the castle was destroyed and remained in ruins until 1971. In 1988, a new building was erected in its place. The complete restoration of the building according to old drawings and photographs was completed in 1988.

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The building is rectangular in plan. The Throne, Knight, and Marble Halls stand out in the palace’s interior, decorated with valuable works of art that belonged to the Polish royal family, including canvases by Rembrandt, Matejko, Bellotto.

Wawel castle

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The Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow is a whole architectural complex, the most important symbol of the country.

The history of Wawel begins in the 10th century. The castle at this time became a symbol of both political and spiritual power. For quite a long time, from the 11th century to the 17th century, the Wawel Castle had the status of the primary residence of local rulers since the capital of Poland at that time was located in Krakow. The best time for the royal palace came in the XIV century, during the reign of Casimir the Great and then the Jagiellonian dynasty. Later, after the conclusion of a historic agreement between Poland and Lithuania, the Wawel complex territorially began to be located on the very border of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as a result of which its position began to deteriorate.

On the contrary, the importance of another Polish city, Warsaw, located in the geographical center of the country, grew. At the same time, a big fire broke out in Wawel, after which a decision was made to move the capital. In 1609, during the reign of Sigismund III, Warsaw finally became the capital of the state, and officially this status was assigned to the city in 1795. In the same year, the Wawel Castle became the property of Austria.

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Old city

The Old Town in Krakow is its historic center, which includes many ancient sights. This part of the city is the first place where tourists begin their excursions around Krakow. Despite the small area, the Old Town cannot be viewed in a short period, because there are more attractions here than in the rest of the city. The historical center of Krakow is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Nowadays, various fairs are held on the territory of the Old Town, solemn and cultural events, concerts are held.

Bieszczady National Park

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Bieszczady National Park is the third-largest national park in Poland with an area of ​​292.02 km², located in the southeast of the country. It includes the high-mountainous regions of the Polish part of the Bieszczady massif with the highest peak Tarnica (1346 m).

The park was founded in 1973, and 1992 it and the surrounding areas became part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

In Bieszczady Park, such species of animals as brown bear, wolf, wild boar, beaver, lynx, and a large population of bison (about 100 individuals) are protected. The most popular pastime of tourists in the park is equestrian tourism. In addition to hiking on the terrain on horses of the Hutsul breed, guests are offered “skiing” – skiing attached to a horse-drawn carriage in winter.

Bialowieza Forest

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National Park Belovezhskaya Pushcha in Poland is not as famous among our compatriots as its Belarusian half, completely unfair. Tourism is developed here just as well, bison are just as mighty, and the nature of the middle European zone blooms with meadows, rustles with oak forests, and murmurs the purest rivers, reminding us of our native lands. Add unique cultural sites to this – and you get a world-class recreation area.

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Malbork Castle

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Malbork Castle, or Marienburg Castle,  is a castle in the eponymous town of Malbork in northern Poland, not far from the border with the Kaliningrad region of Russia. It is one of the largest brick castles in the world – it covers an area of ​​more than 20 hectares.

The castle was built in 1276 of brick by the Teutonic Knights, and for a long time, served as the residence of the Masters of the Teutonic Order, who moved here from Venice. The castle reached its heyday in the XIV-XV centuries: it was surrounded by four lines of defense, had large reserves of food and weapons, and a strong military garrison. After the Thirteen Years’ War in 1457, the castle passed into the hands of the Jagiellons and became one of the royal residences. Significant reconstruction of the building was carried out at the end of the 19th century. The castle was severely damaged during the Second World War and was restored in the post-war period.

Travel

Vacations Forever: 5 Best Resort Towns You Should Move to ASAP

Do you want to be on vacation all year long? Fewer people are using their part-time vacation homes as primary residences nowadays, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be a great choice for you.

Let’s go through the top resort towns you should move to if you want to be permanently on vacation.

1. Jackson Hole, United States

If you’re a big fan of skiing, you’re sure to enjoy Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Jackson Hole has very low crime rates, so it’s a safe place to live if you have a family.

It’s also home to some excellent schools, so you don’t need to be worried about your children’s education. However, Jackson Hole does have high costs of living, particularly for a city in a less populated state.

2. Estepona, Spain

Do you enjoy the south of Spain? Consider moving to Estepona. This city, which is located on the Costa del Sol, is populated along the coast. There are tons of amazing water sports you can try out when you visit Estepona.

Plus, you can check out interesting museums when you live in Estepona, like the Antonio Ordóñez Museum of Bullfighting, the Ethnographic Museum, and the Paleontology Museum. And, Estepona is home to delicious restaurants, so you’ll never get tired of eating the local cuisine. Those who are looking for a place to live in Estepona should check out choosemarbella.com.

3. Cartagena, Colombia

If you’re looking for a great beach city, you’ll certainly want to consider Cartagena. There are plenty of resorts you can check out, or you can hit the beaches yourself.

Cartagena is also one of the cheaper cost of living options when it comes to beach cities. However, if you’re a vegetarian or have dietary restrictions, Colombia can be a difficult country to navigate.

4. Palm Springs, United States

Palm Springs is an interesting resort city. It’s extremely popular with seniors and members of the LGBTQ community (along with, of course, people who fall under both categories).

Palm Springs is the perfect place to live for people who love golfing or playing tennis. But be forewarned, you’ll need a car to get around Palm Springs since things are spread out and public transportation can be limited.

5. Todos Santos, Mexico

While Cabo San Lucas is one of the most popular resort city choices out there, it’s probably not a place you want to live long term. So, why not try out one of the neighboring towns? Todos Santos is one great option.

Todos Santos is home to a great community of artists, so people who love creativity won’t want to miss out. Plus, Todos Santos is one of the safest resort towns out there. And, the city is becoming more and more popular, so you’ll be trendy by moving to Todos Santos.

Move to These Resort Towns Today

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What are you waiting for? Any of these resort towns are a great option for your next stage in life.

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Travel

Estonia Travel Guide: Best Places to Visit And Things To Do

Estonia is one of the brightest, most versatile, and diverse countries in northern Europe. Situated on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and washed by the waters of the Gulfs of Riga and Finland, Estonia offers tourists an incredible selection of natural landscapes, ancient monuments, and architectural wonders. Millennia of history, cultural traditions, lively and fascinating, historic cities, castles, and fortresses of the Crusader era, museums, and elegant museums from the time of the Empire. Two thousand five hundred islands, virgin forests and National parks, lakes, swamps, meteorite craters, and hundreds of kilometers of beaches – this is all Estonia!

With the latest technological advances, Estonia offers a unique cocktail of experiences where all the ingredients are perfectly matched. Excursions, entertainment, historical routes, shopping, gastronomic wonders, spa hotels, and the best beaches of the Baltic Sea – whatever plan you go on vacation, Estonia will undoubtedly bring them to life.

Despite its modest size, Estonia can surprise even the experienced traveler. It is easily accessible from any corner of Europe – by air, land, and water. Tallinn, the delightful and ancient capital of Estonia, and the main cities of Sweden and Finland are only hours apart. Guests from Warsaw will be delivered by a comfortable bus, and residents of St. Petersburg should not be late for the evening train. Breakfast can be ordered in the heart of Tallinn.

Magical Tallinn, an actual teleport city, a time machine in action.
The entire old town is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an example of conservation in northern Europe.

From a bird’s eye view, its shape repeats the heart – this is probably why it regularly steals hearts from impressionable tourists!

It is enough to climb one of the observation platforms to leave your own there, and there are many of them in the city.

And then walk the whimsically twisted streets, admiring the ancient fortress walls, towers, and underground passages – the Tallinn fortress is more than 700 years old, and it is also considered the standard of medieval architecture.

In addition to the fortress, the historic part of Tallinn will offer ancient temples, medieval mansions, museums, and, of course, restaurants – to celebrate your acquaintance with the city tastefully, and you have a choice of 1001 restaurants. Many of them have earned the laurels of the best in northern Europe.

The second most important city in the country is Tartu. It is considered the intellectual capital of Estonia, and it is not for nothing that its foundation is attributed to Prince Yaroslav the Wise. The oldest university, the most picturesque ruins of the cathedral, the most beautiful Botanical Garden, and the most “advanced” museums are located here. Another reason to visit Tartu is fairs, festivals, and other entertainment events. Thanks to the university and the student body, it is also the funniest city in Estonia.

In Narva, Rakvere, and Põltsamaa, ancient fortresses and majestic castles fans should take a ride.

Life here is quiet and unhurried, and only occasionally, the city’s peace is disturbed by music festivals and historical reconstructions.

The “summer” capital of Estonia, stylish and bright, will offer its guests spa hotels, health resorts on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, a pretty port with yachts, and the Old Town of the Hanseatic League.

But the main thing for tourists who come here is eight kilometers of sandy beach, the best in the country.

Those who love everything at once should go to Haapsalu. One of the most famous spa resorts, renowned for its traditions and admirers, Haapsalu also has a worthy historical dimension.

A medieval castle and an old cathedral, a vibrant Old Town, the Seaside Promenade – culture is perfectly combined with vacation motives.

And, of course, you cannot leave Estonia without seeing its islands. Choose the largest and most beautiful island of Saaremaa and its capital, old Kuressaare. The local Bishop’s Castle is considered the most harmonious in the country, and the climate is one of the best on the coast.

In short, why would you not come to Estonia – to have fun, improve your health, or intellectually enrich yourself, you will have a great vacation. Estonia will take care of this!

History

Estonian history is a journey of thousands of years. This northern country has managed to preserve the traditions and customs of its ancestors, Viking sagas, and tales of overseas kings while remaining a modern European state.

Estonia: the beginning of the beginnings

Historical evidence of life on these lands can be found already in the 9th millennium BC. The appearance of the first people on the territory of modern Estonia is associated with the end of the last known ice age. According to archaeologists, the oldest site of primitive people appeared on the banks of the Pärnu River, not far from Sindi, approximately in 9500 BC. There are several such settlements. They all belong to the Kund culture.

This ancient cultural stratum existed until the 5th millennium BC and is named after the Estonian city of Kunda. Its influence spread to the eastern Baltic states, Poland, and southern Finland. The settlements of hunters and anglers used stone tools of labor and defense, which are found in many archaeologists, right up to the Mesolithic period.

Over the millennia, cultural layers have changed, and along with them – the traditions of the peoples inhabiting these lands. Already in the third millennium BC, the inhabitants of the settlements began to raise livestock, and by the first millennium, this trade became the main activity of the settlers.

The path to the emergence of statehood

Three thousand years ago, the inhabitants of the territories that make up modern Estonia chose a sedentary lifestyle. As a rule, the new settlers preferred the coastal regions, and here the first settlements were built, fortified, and defended. Their traces can be found to this day on the island of Saaremaa, and these are Ridala and Asva, as well as the settlement of Iru near Tallinn.

At the same time, sea and land contacts with neighbors begin to develop. Archaeologists designate this period as the culture of stone burials. It is associated with the resettlement of the ancestors of the Germans from Scandinavia.

Estonia, at the beginning of our era, is the land of agriculture and cattle breeding. Already in the early Middle Ages, customs and traditional ways of rural life appeared, which Estonians managed to preserve to this day. Many historic villages still exist today.

The early Middle Ages are a crucial period in the formation of Estonia. New, fortified settlements are being built, a system of administrative registration of territories has been formed, and a small farm is taken as a unit of measurement – a typical family farm. There are still many of them in Estonia. The entire territory of the state is divided into 8 regions and counties, these are Virumaa, Läanemaa, Rävala, Saaremaa, Sakala, Ugandi, Harju County, Järvamaa.

By this period, an early feudal model of society was formed, where elders ruled the lands. The major Estonian epic, which tells the story of the medieval giant Kalevipoeg, was written just in the spirit of that time.

In the same historical period, around 1030, the campaign of Prince Yaroslav the Wise began in the northern lands. He founded the city of Yuryev, present-day Tartu.

A little later, local tribes recaptured Tartu. In the following centuries, the ancient Estonians, on the one hand, and the inhabitants of Pskov with Novgorod, on the other, regularly “exchanged pleasantries.”

Such raids on neighbors were considered in the Order of things. One of them even went down in history. It is known that the Estonians conflicted with the Scandinavian Vikings. The inhabitants of the largest Estonian island – Saaremaa, mainly distinguished themselves in this confrontation.

Possessing a solid fleet at that time, the Oeselians, that is, the islanders kidnapped the Norwegian Queen Astrid and her son, Prince Olaf.

Subsequently, it was canonized, and one of the most outstanding examples of medieval architecture in Estonia, St. Olaf’s Church, was named in its part.

The Estonian Vikings are also credited with the destruction of the Swedish capital of Sigtuna at the beginning of the 12th century. Visiting the island of Saaremaa, you can see with your own eyes the treasures of the Vikings, which were found here in many.

The Early Middle Ages: From the Crusaders to the Reformation

The beginning of the Middle Ages in Estonia is associated with the spread of Christianity. The faith of Christ came to these lands later than to central Europe, and if at the beginning these were missionary movements, then the planting of a new religion took place with fire and sword. Various organizations – the Teutonic Order, the Pope, German archbishops, Denmark, and the Kingdom of Sweden – advocated for Estonia’s conversion to Catholicism. Pagan ancestor cults have always been extreme in these parts, so the Northern Crusade decided to take drastic measures. In history, he remained under the name of Livonian.

The crusaders reached the Estonian lands by 1208. And in 1217, the battle of Viljandi took place, where the Estonians were defeated. Two years later, the territories of northern Estonia were conquered by the Danes, the south of the state began to belong to the German Order of the Swordsmen.

As a result of the conquests, these lands fell under the control of the powerful Livonian Order, which had occupied a substantial part of the modern Baltic.

At the same time, the Danish king granted Tallinn, which was considered a pearl among cities, the privileges of the Lübeck city law.

According to these laws, the capital of Estonia, like other cities of the Hanseatic League, was governed until the beginning of the twentieth century.

The conquered lands were transformed into bishoprics. Some of them were subordinate to the supreme authority in Riga. Denmark ruled others.

Of course, this did not consider the interests of the local population, and conflicts were inevitable.

The most famous uprising was St. George’s Night, which marked the Peasant War of Liberation beginning.

The riots, which the Danish authorities could not cope with, forced them to sell the land to the Teutonic Order. The era of German rule in Estonia began.

German landlords wielded tremendous power here for the next 700 years. The territories of modern Estonia and Latvia are called Livonia – a medieval community of interconnected small principalities that were part of the German church territories of the Holy Roman Empire. The feudal system formed in medieval Estonia put German knights and Catholic bishops at the pinnacle of power.

The rights and freedoms of residents were constantly infringed upon, right up to the introduction of serfdom. Taxes and taxes reached unprecedented levels, and all administrative and judicial power belonged to the German magistrates. At the same time, the Estonians themselves, who constituted the majority of the population, remained predominantly peasants and did not have personal freedom.

In large cities, merchant guilds and artisan communities were formed, and Rewal – modern Tallinn, Dorpat, now the city of Tartu, Pernau, familiar to us as Pärnu, and Viljandi were part of the powerful Hanseatic League. This commercial and defensive amalgamation of merchant guilds and merchant cities quickly became a monopoly in northern Europe.

Traces of those times are still easy to find on the streets of Tallinn.

Walking through the Old Town, pay attention to the medieval warehouses, equipped with hooks sticking out above the attic for lifting loads.

Perhaps due to the eternal conflict of interests of the trading cities with their merchants and the Catholic clergy represented by the German bishops, the Reformation movement in Estonia received support.

The middle of the 16th century was accompanied by riots, where ordinary people revolted against the Catholic clergy.

One of the manifestos of the Reformation, which the locals supported, was the holding of divine services and the publication of books in Estonian.

Middle-Ages: from the Livonian War to the Russian Empire

The sixteenth-century turned out to be a turning point – the Livonian Order, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Russian tsar, Sweden, and the Danish kingdom started a major conflict over the division of territories. It remains in history as the Livonian War. Estonia became one of those lands for which they fought. Both the population and the economic component of the cities suffered greatly during the hostilities. As a result, the state was divided between Sweden, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Denmark.

Later, by the middle of the 17th century, all the territories of modern Estonia were ceded to the Kingdom of Sweden. The foundation of the University of Tartu, one of the oldest in Europe, dates back to this time. A significant event took place in 1632, at the direction of the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf.

Until the end of the 17th century, the economic stability of Estonia was ensured by trade. Large cities – Narva, Tallinn, Tartu, stood at the crossroads of trade routes, through which goods went to Europe or Russia and back. The agricultural sector also functioned well, and crafts were developing.

The Great Northern War changed the balance of power in the region. It ended in 1721 with the surrender of Sweden, and the Estonian lands came under the control of the Russian Empire.

Estonia as part of Russia

Most of the Baltic territories in the middle of the 18th century were ceded to Russia. Northern Estonia turned into Revel province, and southern lands, together with Latvia, formed Livonia. Emperor Peter the Great restored the rights of the German nobility, and they constituted a solid layer in the highest authorities. In religion, complete freedom was also allowed for both the Lutheran faith and the Russian Orthodox Church.

In the spheres of culture and education, progress was observed, books, newspapers, and magazines were published in Estonian, educational societies were actively working, defending the rights of the people, and literacy of the population was almost universal.

The population also recovered, undermined by wars and epidemics.

An important historical milestone was the abolition of serfdom by Tsar Alexander the First. It happened in 1816.

In the middle of the 19th century, Estonia and the rest of the empire entered the era of capitalism.

The industry developed by leaps and bounds, mechanical engineering, textile, and agricultural industries formed the basis of the economy.

Success in the economic field and the development of educational programs contributed to the birth of the Estonian national movement.

Towards a free Estonia

Activists of the national movement, formed at the end of the 19th century, demanded equal rights for Germans and indigenous people, Estonians, whose interests were infringed upon. These societies united writers, educators, journalists, representatives of the intellectual elite. They fought not only for legal rights but also for restoring traditions such as the Song Festival, ethnographic festivals, the first Estonian theater. However, despite these bold attempts, the Russians and Germans remained society’s economic and political elite.

In the wake of patriotic movements and extreme provocations, strikes and unrest broke out throughout Estonia. The tsarist government responded with harsh repression, but the uprisings continued in 1916, leading to the 1917 revolution. The interim government was entrusted with managing the former Estland province.

Riots continued this time between Estonian nationalists and Bolsheviks. However, now the First World War intervened in the plans of the future Soviet government. Estonia remained neutral in this conflict, demanding independence.

The wish came true on February 24, 1918 – finally, Estonia became a free state.

The first Estonian republic existed until 1940. The Second World War, its sad consequences, and the subsequent incorporation into the USSR lasted almost fifty years.

Estonia regained independence in 1991 with a rally known as the Singing Revolution.

Over the past thirty years, the state has been actively developing.

Tallinn’s old town was renovated for the 100th anniversary of independence.

Estonia is a member of the UN, the European Union, and NATO, a technically advanced and progressive country.

The system of electronic elections exists and is actively used here, and Skype was invented.

In 2002, Tallinn hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, and in 2018, the anniversary year for Estonian independence, many museums, palaces, and cultural sites were renovated.

The Tallinn Christmas market was recognized as the most beautiful in Europe by the European Best Destinations Association in the same year.

And regardless of political trends, time of year, and the weather outside the window, this beautiful, diverse, and close country is always waiting for you to visit!

Climate and weather in Estonia

Weather in cities

Several factors influence the Estonian climate. The proximity of the Baltic Sea, the Gulf Stream, Atlantic cyclones, temperate continental regions, fifteen hundred islands – this combination can be safely called unique.

The warmest month of the year is July, and the coldest is February.

However, the transitions between seasons are smooth and comfortable, and the country’s inhabitants are unfamiliar with both severe touches of frost and sweltering heat.

Estonia, located both on the mainland and on the islands, is surrounded by water on three sides. A large part of it is swamped, and the sea and the unusual natural relief create their microclimate. The weather in Estonia is most often described as humid and calm, relatively mild.

Winter in Estonia starts as expected – in December. As a rule, snowfalls at this time, which greatly adorn the landscapes, and there is a light frost conducive to walking.

It is one of the most popular tourist seasons of the year and is the time to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

January and February are colder and frosty, and there is a lot of snow. However, the air temperature rarely drops below – 6 … 8 ° C.

The weather is conducive to winter fun – ski runs, skating rinks in parks, sledding, fishing are open.

Estonians are a very athletic nation, and most of the time, joining their winter walks is entirely free.

Spring comes to Estonia not earlier than the second half of March. At this time of the year, frosts are still possible, mainly at night, but the sun is peeping more often.

April is also a fantastic month; May is considered more successful for a visit to the country. Spring can be seen in all its glory – in blooming parks, meadows outside the city, and bright city flower beds. Walking around Old Tallinn, do not deny yourself the pleasure of sitting at a table in an outdoor cafe – in May, such gatherings in the air are already quite comfortable.

If the purpose of your visit is to see summer Estonia, plan your trip in July. June is more like a warm spring than our usual summer. However, the month is exceptionally sunny and not too grainy.

The best time to visit Estonia is in June and July.

July is considered the warmest, sunniest, and driest month of the year. The air temperature warms up to + 22 … 24 ° C. + 30 ° C in Estonia is an abnormal heat. Such temperature cataclysms do not happen often.

Despite quite hot daily temperatures for Estonia, summer nights remain cool.

This feature of the local climate dictates to tourists their own rules for collecting luggage – a light jacket or sweater is required even in the middle of summer.

July and August are perfect for exploring Estonian cities and relaxing on their beaches.

The water temperature off the coast of Tallinn is usually around + 20 ° C, in rare cases warming up a few degrees higher.

Another good season to visit Estonia is autumn.

September usually welcomes guests of the country with dry, warm, and sunny weather.

This is an excellent time for both city walks and outdoor recreation. The first frosts and rains come with the onset of October, and although the average temperature is around + 10 ° C during the day, the mood is spoiled by prolonged precipitation.

It is freezing and wet in November. This is the time of real northern autumn, with fogs and falling snow. A warm hat and mittens are a must, or you can keep warm at the numerous spas, as well as at Christmas markets, which also start in November.

Estonian cities and regions

The territory of Estonia, divided in the 13th century by the knights of the Livonian Order into eight historical regions – Maakondas in Estonian, today, with the recognition of independence, has been divided into 15 counties. Almost all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, are of some interest to travelers.

Northern Estonia

The country’s history in stone can be studied in the regions of Harju, Lääne-Viru County, Ida-Virumaa. Here you will find the ruins of ancient castles, noble estates from the times of the empire, palaces, and all this against the backdrop of dunes and seemingly pristine coniferous forests. The main cities of the north of the country are the capital Tallinn, the seaside Paldiski, Maardu with its lake.

In addition to the beauties of ancient Tallinn, with its great fortress and streets of the Old Town, Harju County attracts with its excellent preservation of medieval buildings.

Temples and fortresses, historical landowners’ estates – manors, the Vasalemma palace, and park complex.

The views are also in order here – 17 landscape zones protecting unique natural monuments, including karst fields, heaths, springs, swamps, picturesque coastal cliffs.

County Ida-Viru County is famous for its ancient megaliths in Lahemaa National Park, on the coast of the Gulf of Finland.

Noble estates, the “village of captains” Käsmu, where the first ship of Estonian production was launched, the family estate of Admiral von Krusenstern, as well as a tour of the Neeruti National Park – you will not have time to get bored. Don’t miss Rakvere Castle – built-in 1226 by the Danes, it is perfectly preserved for its advanced age.

Ida-Viru County will appeal to nature explorers. Sea ledges – Klint, the highest waterfall in the country, the Oru landscape reserve, the most interesting in Estonia, the Alutaguse adventure park, the beaches of Lake Peipsi, and the opportunity to kayak on the Kurtna lakes.

Western Estonia

The western regions of Estonia – Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Pärnumaa, and Läänemaa, are an opportunity to have a fantastic seaside holiday, combining vacation with viewing architectural masterpieces. In this region, sea resorts, spa centers, mud baths, and sanatoriums are concentrated.

Saaremaa county is located on the largest island in Estonia and encompasses the islets nearby. They are loved by fans of sea sports – surfing and kiting, thanks to their windy weather. And in the holiday season, you can go swimming with seals, organized by the employees of Vilsandi National Park. Do not miss the Kaali meteorite crater, which is filled with water of an unusual jade hue. The lake is round in shape, 100 meters in diameter, and you can swim in it in summer.

The capital of the county is Kuressaare. There is a sea harbor, an airport, and the Episcopal Castle, one of the most beautiful in Eastern Europe.

The Old Town has also survived in Kuressaare, with colorful historical buildings.

Surfers and beachgoers also love hiiumaa.

The second-largest island in Estonia offers tourists a picturesque coastline with a total length of 310 km, wind, and waves for fans of sea activities, as well as hiking trails.

You can walk, for example, to the Kõpu lighthouse – the most ancient navigational landmark in the Baltics.

The largest county in Estonia is Pärnumaa. Its capital, the seaside port city of Pärnu, is considered the main Baltic resort in Estonia. Perfect sandy beaches with white dunes surrounded by pine forests are found here.

Neighboring Läänemaa attracts visitors thanks to the county capital, the old town of Haapsalu. Famous for the traditions of mud therapy – the first clinic in the country was opened here, he has not lost his “qualifications” even now. Do not miss the old Kurhaus on the seaside promenade – a beautiful wooden building from the 19th century with a concert hall. And in the center of the city, you will find a 13th-century bishop’s castle, whose ruins are majestic.

Central Estonia

The center of the country is beautiful during the warm season. Gardens are blooming, historic estates are opening their doors, and landscaped parks are inviting guests. Raplamaa, Viljandi County, and Järvamaa counties offer many exciting walks.

For example, in  Raplamaa, it is suggested to visit the “Golden Ring of Raplamaa Manors.” The program includes noble estates, old churches, historical manors, which are now open as crafts centers. Hikers should pay attention to the limestone plateau in Maryamaa parish.

Viljandi County is visited for the sake of the central city – Viljandi, with a very ancient and venerable history. The first settlements here date back to the 5th century BC, the Viking Age. Written references to the city date back to 1154, and in the 12th century, the first permanent settlement appeared on the site of Viljandi. At the beginning of the XIII century, these lands were conquered by order of the Swordsmen, and already in 1224, a stone fortress was erected here, which was considered the largest in the Baltic. The defense and the city were called Fellin. Under this name, they were part of the Hanseatic League. 

In  Järva will appeal to fans of nature and lovers of history. Here you can visit the historic Albu estate and then walk in the Kõrvemaa landscape reserve. Bird watchers will especially appreciate this park; you can watch rare black storks and golden eagles here.

Eastern Estonia

The legendary shores of Lake Peipsi are the birthplace of the Tartumaa and Jõgevamaa regions. The historical battles of the Russian-Swedish and the Livonian War did not pass unnoticed; numerous castles and fortresses in the east of the country have survived to this day in the form of picturesque ruins.

County Tartu County  – the citadel of knowledge and scientific progress. Tartu, the region’s central city and the second most populous in the country, boasts a rich history. One of the oldest in Eastern Europe, Tartu was founded by Yaroslav the Wise in 1030 as the city of Yuryev. In addition to the university, one of the oldest in Europe, Tartu is famous for theaters, museums, architectural monuments, pretty streets of the Old Town.

The vicinity of Lake Peipsi, located nearby, will be an excellent competitor to seascapes.

You can come here for a whole vacation and not have time to see all the exciting places in the area – ancient manors, the famous “Onion Route” – a historical route through museums and castles, the beautiful Alatskivi Palace.

The amazing glacial landscapes of Jõgevamaa county take us back to the time of the epic about the exploits of Kalevipoeg, the giant warrior.

Mysterious protected forests, lakes, giant boulders, as if forgotten here by a strong man – everything breathes with legends.

One of the most exciting places in the county is the town of Põltsamaa. Once there was the capital of the Livonian Kingdom, with its castle, which welcomes guests in the city center today. By the way, Põltsamaa is also considered the wine capital of Estonia – fruit and berry and fruit wines are produced here, arranging colorful festivals and fairs in summer.

South Estonia

In winter, the southern regions of Valga County, Võrumaa, and Põlvamaa are especially popular with Estonian residents and visitors. The best ski resorts are located here, and the hilly terrain is favorable for snowmobiling and sledding. Valga County is also popular with professionals – it hosts the qualifying rounds of the European Championships and the World Cup in cross-country skiing. In summer, the freestyle jumps are used as an observation deck.

Põlvamaa will appeal to fans of ethno-tourism. Here are the settlements and villages that have preserved the traditional way of life, all against the backdrop of marvelous nature. National parks offer hiking trails of any degree of difficulty, and you can walk along swamps, cliffs, and canyons.

An additional highlight is meteorite craters, and there are four of them in the area. Moreover, the diameter of the deepest is about 80 meters.

Võrumaa county will appeal to wildlife researchers. The main pride of the region is the Hinni Canyon, a mysterious valley that gives rise to the Rõuge Trail. Having passed it to the end, you will see the pasture of the indigenous abodes of these places – the reindeer.

The largest lake in Estonia and the country’s highest point, Suur Munamägi Hill, 318 meters high, is also waiting for you on the route.

Where to go in Estonia

Tallinn Zoo

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The Tallinn Zoo was founded in 1939.

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Today the collection numbers over 350 animal species living on 89 hectares. The zoo’s expositions include Alpine, Central Asian, South American, Arctic, and many other zones.

The zoo is proud of the collection “Tropical House,” rare for northern latitudes: the inhabitants of the tropical jungle were settled here.

Town Hall Square

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Each ancient European city has its central square with a town hall founded in medieval times. Such areas were usually used as a gathering place during some important events and as a trading platform. Tallinn is also no exception and has its center – Town Hall Square.

Monument to the battleship “Rusalka.”

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A bronze angel on the seashore holds a cross in his hand held high above his head. He points to the place of death of the battleship “Rusalka.” The statue, created by the sculptor A. Adamson, was installed in Kadriorg Park in 1902 on the 7th anniversary of the shipwreck.

Fat Margarita Tower

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A medieval maritime city is, first of all, towers and fortress walls, in a word, structures intended to defend the city from invading invaders. Today the Great Sea Gate and the Fat Margarita have turned into monuments reminding native Tallinn residents and guests of the town about the terrible times. Fat Margarita was “born” in the 16th century: a giant armory tower (155 loopholes) with a diameter of 25 meters and a height of 20 meters was erected next to the Sea Gate.

Kadriorg Palace and Park

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Kadriorg is considered a prestigious area of ​​Tallinn. The tranquil area is famous for its rich history and the main attractions – the Kadriorg Palace and park. Now on its territory is the residence of the Estonian president and several embassies of other states. The preserved wooden houses are also of interest; Estonia’s prominent figures of literature and art lived in them in the 1920s – 1930s.

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Aquapark in Tallinn

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Aquapark in Tallinn is a water spa at the Kalev Spa hotel located in the center of the “old town” next to Kanuti Park. Town Hall Square is just a 7-minute walk from the water park. In addition, within walking distance of many attractions is the center of Tallinn – Dominican Monastery, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Dome Cathedral, St. Peter and Paul Church, St. Nicholas Church, Church of the Holy Spirit, Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Toompea Castle, Kiek-de- Kyok and other objects.

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Czech Travel Guide: Best Places to Visit And Things To Do

The Czech Republic, or the Czech Republic, is a central European state bordering Poland in the north, Germany in the west, Austria in the south, and Slovakia in the east. The capital of the Czech Republic is the city of Prague, which is one big attraction in the open air. The country covers an area of ​​78 866 km², has 10 610 947 people (2016). The largest cities are Prague, Brno, Pilsen, Ostrava.

According to legend, the ancestors of today’s Czechs, led by their leader Czech, settled on the territory of the modern Czech Republic, which has been inhabited since the Stone Age. The first chronicle mentions settlements on the Czech land date back to the end of the 9th century when princes from the Přemyslid clan united these lands. In the Middle Ages, the Czech kingdom had significant influence. Still, the religious conflicts that arose (the Hussite wars in the 15th century and the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century) significantly weakened it. Soon the kingdom fell under the rule of the Habsburgs and became part of Austria-Hungary.

After the end of the First World War and the fall of Austria-Hungary in 1918, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Subcarpathian Rus united into the independent republic of Czechoslovakia. Germany occupied the country in 1939. At the end of World War II, the Czech Republic found itself in the Soviet camp, which predetermined its history until 1989. On January 1, 1993, Slovakia separated from the Czech Republic, and both countries gained independence. Today’s Czech Republic has been a NATO member since 1999, and it has been a member of the European Union since 2004.

The Czech Republic is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Regardless of the season, the country annually is visited by about 50 million people—the choice of tourist routes in the Czech. Republic is so extensive that it is worthwhile to decide in advance which direction of tourism interests you at the moment and which should be left for subsequent visits. The most attractive are historical routes since the country has many objects that will be of interest to fans of antiquity: castles, fortresses, castles. Some cities in the Czech Republic are included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

Climate and weather in the Czech Republic

The climate of the Czech Republic is moderate continental with features of the sea. Summer in the region is warm, with daytime temperatures of + 23 … + 25 ° С, with a lot of precipitation. Winter is cloudy, cool, in the day around 0 … + 3 ° С, and at night -5. -2 ° С, snow often falls. In winter, ski resorts start operating in the mountains. 

The minimum precipitation occurs in spring and autumn, and this time is considered the most comfortable for excursions and travel around the country.

The weather in the Czech Republic rarely surprises: in summer, as a rule, it is not hot, and in winter, it is moderately calm, so tourists visit the country all year round. 

  • Pilsen Region  – This region attracts tourists with its old Baroque buildings, nature reserves, folklore, and delicious food. Local beer is considered one of the most delicious varieties in the whole Czech Republic and beyond.
  • The South Bohemian Region is the greenest and most picturesque region of the Czech Republic, with a rich history and unique architectural sights. A third of its area is covered with forests and seven thousand pounds.
  • Stí nad Labem  – this area is also called the “Gateway to the Czech Republic,” as it is surrounded by hills – former volcanoes, from the tops of which an impressive view of the whole Czech Republic opens. The region will be attractive for those who like to explore ancient cities and their architecture. And for those who prefer rest among the picturesque nature – there are many reserves here. Thanks to volcanic soils, the region grows the highest quality hops in the world.
  • Liberec Region  – the region is famous for its magnificent nature and ski resorts. It is also considered the birthplace of a precious stone – Czech garnet.
  • Hradec Králové Region  – the region is home to the highest mountains of the Czech Republic – the Krkonoše with numerous ski resorts, a large number of castles and fortresses, and the most significant Czech zoo – an authentic African safari.
  • Pardubice Region  – looks like heaven on earth. Along with its magnificent nature, this region is proud of its history and technical monuments. On the National Stud Farm territory in Kladruby nad Labem, you can see how the white breed of Starokladruby horses is bred.
  • The Olomouc Region attracts tourists with its nature reserves and the Jeseníky Mountains with exceptional climatic conditions. This area is rich in its cultural traditions and ancient monuments.
  • The Zlín Region has Czech traditions and folklore, good wine and plum brandy, delicious food, and mysterious castles. Visit the local town of Zlín with its unusual architecture in the Czech Republic. Thanks to the local businessman Tomáš Bati, who invited the most distinctive architects in the 1930s, the city has become a natural monument to functionalism.
  • South Moravian Region  – This hospitable region is considered a wine-growing region, as 96% of the Czech vineyards are located here. A region with beautiful picturesque nature and UNESCO Intangible Heritage Sites.
  • Central Bohemian Region  – the atmosphere of local towns and villages is created by the legacy of ancient royal dynasties, the prints of which can be found all over the region.

Old cities of the Czech Republic

In addition to castles in the Czech Republic, it is worth visiting ancient cities, in which a vast number of historical and architectural monuments are concentrated.

Czech Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov is the most famous historical area of ​​South Bohemia, located in the Sumava foothills, famous for its stunning ensemble of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings. Cesky Krumlov Castle is the largest in the Czech Republic after Prague Castle, and it is also included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. The ensemble of the castle consists of 40 buildings and palaces, five courtyards, and a garden.

The castle on the old trade route was founded in the 1st half of the 13th century by representatives of the Vitkovich family. The architecture and the castle’s name determined its geographical location: the court was located in a loop formed by the bend of the Vltava River (die Krumme Au – crooked meadow). Podhradie got the name Latran (latus – side, side), and it was also planned to consider the river’s bends. Initially built in the Gothic style, the vast castle complex has changed – first in the Baroque style, then in the Rococo style. In the city, tourists will be interested in a garden and a park, theater, galleries, cellars. The dominant feature of the old town is the church of St. Vitus rising on the steep bank of the river. Buildings decorated in the sgraffito style, red-tiled roofs, and gilded turrets give Krumlov a unique charm and style.

Not far from Krumlov, only 32 kilometers away, there is a new (opened in 2012) attraction – a wooden observation tower at the top of Kremlin, above Lake Lipno. This tower is unique among structures of this kind for its pedestrian zone – a wooden suspended frame begins on the ground and gradually rises to the top of the building. In 2012, this site was named the best new Czech landmark.

Telc

Telč is a city on the water, Moravian Venice, whose layout is due to the presence of three artificial reservoirs and a bypass channel – the former castle moat. The city’s historical core is an old fortress, which has retained its appearance since the Middle Ages. The Gothic castle on the water was founded in the 13th century, and the building acquired its modern appearance during the reconstruction in the 16th century. The main building of the old city is a palace with rich interiors:

  • The Golden
  • Blue
  • Theater and Knights’ Halls
  • The All Saints’ Chapel
  • A treasury
  • A banquet hall decorated in the sgraffito technique

Jindrichuv Hradec

The town of Jindrichuv Hradec is home to the third-largest castle complex in the Czech Republic, built in the 13th century on the historical border between Bohemia, Moravia, and Austria. The complex’s main building is a Gothic palace with valuable paintings, the Church of St. John the Baptist with rare frescoes, and a former Minorite monastery. The city is famous for its annual classical music (Concertino Praga) and folk music (Folková růže) festivals.

Brno

Brno is the capital of Moravia and the second most important and largest city in the Czech Republic. The most recognizable symbol of Brno is the Gothic castle of Spielberg, the silhouette of which is depicted on Czech coins. The court was founded in the 13th century on the summit of the Spielberg mountain. 

Once in Brno, it is worth exploring the Moravian Gallery, the second largest museum in the Czech Republic, famous for its rich collection. The gallery, founded in 1961, contains objects of free art – not only painting, graphics, and plastic arts from ancient times to the present, but also photography, applied art, and graphic design.

Also noteworthy in Brno is the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Church of St. Jacob, the Town Hall, the Church of St. Michael.

Kutná Hora

The historic town of Kutná Hora, the second largest after Prague in the 14th century, became famous for its silver mines. In the 16th century, after the cessation of silver mining, its importance fell, but the town retained its charm, becoming one of the most famous tourist centers in the country. Tourists may find it interesting to visit the Chapel of All Saints, built around 1400 at a Gothic cathedral in the cemetery of the Cistercian monastery in Sedlec. As a result of the cholera epidemic of 1318 and during the Hussite wars at the beginning of the 15th century, the cemetery grew considerably. The arriving bones began to be piled up in pyramids. In 1870, by order of the Schwarzenberg’s, woodcarver Frantisek Rint decorated the chapel’s interior with bones from 40,000 skeletons, from the altar to the chandelier.

It is worth visiting Vlašský Dvor – a cultural monument of Kutnogorsk, which is a complex of buildings from the 13th – 14th centuries, once the residence of Czech kings, with an old mint; the stone palace Hradek, which today houses the Silver Museum with an exciting exposition; Cathedral of St. Barbara – Czech Notre Dame de Paris.

Plzen

Plze, the fourth largest city in the Czech Republic, located in the country’s west, stretches at the confluence of four rivers – Uslava, Uglava, Radbuza, and Mži. Pilsen is famous for the following attractions: the tallest church tower in the Czech Republic (103 m) – the tower of the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, the cathedral itself with the late Gothic Sternberg Chapel, the Town Hall, the dungeons, the Museum of West Bohemia, the third largest synagogue in the world in the Moor-Romanesque style.

As you know, Plze is the capital of Czech brewing, and Plze beer of the Prazdroi and Gambrinus brands is brewed here. The beer is produced according to the old technology, unchanged since the century before last, and the inimitable taste to the drink, according to the Czechs, is given by the Pilsen water, its malt, and the unique storage conditions in the cellars. You can learn more about the history of the Plzeský Prazdroj brewery in the Brewery Museum.

Memorial Terezin

The Terezin Fortress was founded at the end of the 18th century at the confluence of the Laba and Ohři rivers, 5 km south of Litoměřice. During World War II, the German invaders set up a concentration camp for Jews in the fortress, the so-called Terezin ghetto, which housed a little less than 140,000 people (of whom 33,000 died while in the ghetto). Some of the Jews (88,000 people) were deported to Auschwitz and other death camps. By the end of the war, 17,247 people had survived in the ghetto. Soviet troops liberated Terezin on May 9, 1945. Today Terezín houses the Memorial to the Victims of the Concentration Camp.

Medical resorts of the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a recognized destination for health tourism, and the country is famous for its thermal and mineral spas, the most famous of which is Karlovy Vary. The city was founded by Emperor Charles IV century. 1358 appeared in a place where 132 mineral springs break through to the earth’s surface, 12 of which are with healing water. The resort has a glorious history; the entire world elite came here to improve their health: monarchs, prominent political figures, famous people of art. The city’s streets repeat the bends formed by the Teplaya River, across which openwork bridges are thrown. The town is decorated with picturesque buildings of different eras, parks, squares. In addition to medical procedures shown for a wide range of diseases, and pleasant walks in the bosom of nature, you can always enjoy your time here. For example, the city hosts the Karlovy Vary Film Festival – the second most important in Europe after the Cannes Film Festival.

Marianske Lazne -the second most important resort in the Czech Republic after Karlovy Vary, whose history begins in 1528 – discovered Ferdinand’s spring. Today there are about 40 mineral springs here.

Another Czech town with a spa tradition is Frantiskovy Lazne, popular mainly among women, as the local mud successfully treats infertility.

You can find out more about the country’s resorts in our article “Therapeutic spas of the Czech Republic,” which tells about the most popular places for treatment on the waters.

Water parks

Aquapark Babylon is located in Liberec and is part of the largest entertainment center in the Czech Republic Babylon. The interiors of the water park resemble antique baths, and the most popular attractions are the “wild river” and the adrenaline “space bowl.”

The AquaPalace water park is located in the village of Čestlice near Prague – it is the largest water park in Central Europe. The complex consists of the Palace of Waves, the Palace of Adventures, and Relaxation. There is a diving tunnel for lovers of deep-sea diving, and sauna lovers can visit the classic Finnish saunas, Roman baths, and Russian baths.

The Aqua-Olomouc water park is located in Olomouc and is famous for its adrenaline-pumping attractions. Visitors are also offered a massage, solarium, and tepidarium (dry heating zone).

Where to go in the Czech Republic

Prague Old Town

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The Old Town of Prague (Old Town) is the central, oldest, and most popular part of the Czech capital. Everything that Prague is associated with is concentrated here: narrow cobbled streets, unique buildings built in different architectural styles from Gothic to Art Nouveau, beautiful copper doorknobs, orange roofs, and the indescribable charm of a medieval city.

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The Charles Bridge

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Charles Bridge is a famous Prague landmark, one of the recognizable symbols of the city, so adored by tourists.

The medieval Charles Bridge over the Vltava River is a pedestrian, free entrance, open around the clock.

The bridge connects two historical districts – Stare Mesto and Mala Strana.

The length of the Charles Bridge in Prague is 515.76 meters (usually rounded up to 520 meters).

Golden Lane

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In the very center of Prague Castle, there is a picturesque street called Zlata Ulichka. Along the cobblestone pavement, there are tiny multi-colored “gingerbread” houses built into the arches of the former fortress wall.

National Park “Bohemian Switzerland”

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This reserve, which has no analogues in Europe, stretches from the town of Tisza in the Ustecky region to the Shluknovsky ledge in the Decinsky region. The park was founded on January 1, 2000, and became a Czech extension of the German Sächsische Schweiz National Park (Saxon Switzerland), founded 10 years earlier (1990). The Bohemian Switzerland Park is part of the vast natural complex of Labske Piskovce, and the main object of protection is the characteristic sandstone phenomenon – the “rocky sandstone town” of Etrschowické and Dečinské Stena, and the associated biological diversity. Tourists love to visit observation decks with unique views of sandy cliffs, bridges and castles created by nature. The park is popular with fans of active sports: climbers, cyclists, rafting and hiking enthusiasts.

Millions of years ago, the sea stretched here. Having collapsed, it left behind a unique land of high sandstone cliffs and towers, rocky arches, ravines and mountains with truncated peaks.

Wild nature, which for a long time developed without human intervention, was discovered at the end of the 18th century by two Swiss artists of the Romantic era – Adrian Zingg and Anton Graf. Depicting this land in engravings and describing in poetry, they quickly spread the fame of it throughout Europe. The sites along the Elbe River canyon have become the cradle of modern tourism, becoming one of the first actively visited tourist attractions in Europe.

One of the most famous landscape painters of all time, Caspar David Friedrich, came here for the motives of his paintings. The owners of the local estates quickly realized the attractiveness of the local dense forests and romantic outlines of the cliffs, they went to great lengths to make these places more accessible by building roads and bridges. On the Mariana Rock, the Wall of Welhelm and the Rudolph Stone, steps were made, benches were placed, and gazebos were placed on the peaks. Along the roads, new taverns and lodging places were opened for tourists, walking paths appeared, and the wild river Kamenice began to be used to move between the gorges.

Not only artists came here for inspiration. Forts of robber knights, rock towns, legends about gnomes and fairies influenced the storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, poet R.M. Rilke, composers K.M. von Weber, Richard Wagner and others.

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And today the Pravcicke Gate is a symbol of “Czech Switzerland”, conquering artists, for example, the snow-covered Silent Rocks became the scenery for the film “The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. It was here that Lucy visited the cave of the faun Tumnus, and all four brothers and sisters crossed the rocky bridge for the first time and looked at the endless forests of Narnia.

One of the main attractions of Bohemian Switzerland, along with the Pravcické Gate, is a romantic boat trip along the Quiet and Wild Canyons on the Kamenice River. It is a short but impressive boat ride with a gondolier between two sheer cliffs – in places so deep that direct sunlight hardly gets here.

This was once a serious obstacle for the inhabitants of local villages. Once in 1877, at the U Zeleného stromu tavern in the town of Hřensko, five brave souls made a bet that they would sail on rafts from the Dolskoy mill to what was then called the “end of the world”. On rafts 4 meters long, they really safely reached Hrzhensk, in fact, becoming the founders of the tourist water route. The local prince Clari-Aldringen invited specialists from Italy, under whose leadership, through the labor of over two hundred workers, these sites became available to the public. Suspended bridges were thrown here, tunnels were built with the help of explosives. On May 4, 1890, the grand opening of the “Quiet” (“Edmond’s”) canyon took place. Since then, “at the very end of the world”, in fact, nothing has changed much,

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Moravian Karst

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The Moravian Karst, or Moravian Karst, is a nature reserve, one of the largest karst massifs in Europe, located in the Czech Republic, 30 km north of Brno.

The area stretches 25 km in length. Its width in some places is 6 km. The natural park covers an area of ​​92 sq. km. The highest height of rock formations in reserve is 734 m. The lowest place of Kras is the Macokha abyss, which has 138 m with the Punkva River at the bottom. For tourists, unique bridges (Upper and Lower) were equipped over the abyss, from which a stunning and, at the same time, a terrible panorama of the gorge opens up.

The most popular among tourists are the caves of the Moravian Kras, of which there are about 1,100 pieces. Only five underground cavities are equipped for excursions in the Moravian Beauty, among which it is worth mentioning the Punkva cave, through which the Punkva underground river of the same name flows; deep cave Macokha; Katezhinskaya cave with unique limestone formations – helictites growing horizontally; the Balcarka stalactite cave and the Stolbsko-Shoshuvsky caves with spacious underground corridors. Other attractions of the Moravian Karst include the Empty Trough and Dry Trough karst canyons and the White Water Gap.

Unique flora and fauna protect the reserve. Many species of plants and animals are endemic. In some caves, ancient rock paintings have been found on the walls.

On the reserve territory, the so-called “ecological trains” run, delivering tourists to remote points of the park. Tourists should remember that it is stably cold even in summer in the caves, so it is worth bringing a set of warm clothes with you.

Dancing House in Prague

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The Dancing House in Prague is the image of a couple in dance, expressed in urban architecture. The house consists of two towers called “Ginger and Fred,” referring to the famous Hollywood dancer and actor couple Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. The comparison is indeed justified: one tower is straight, has the shape of a cylinder, expanding upward, and symbolizes a man. And the second tower – glass, depicts the figure of a woman with a narrow waist. In the dance, she seemed to lean against her partner. The building’s less flattering nickname is The Drunk House.

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